Frustrated Sagan 'too strong' to win on Tour de France

Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:46pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

ST ETIENNE France (Reuters) - Being too strong, and both feared and respected for it, can be a weakness on the Tour de France, Slovakian prodigy Peter Sagan has discovered.

He has managed eight top five finishes, including four second places, but after 12 stages he has yet to cross the finishing line first -- thanks, he says, to his rivals' defensive tactics.

The 24-year-old former cyclo-cross and mountain bike racer, who won three Tour stages in 2012 and one last year, may have enjoyed an outstanding opening week to take possession of the green jersey as the points classification leader, but admits he is frustrated.

"They know that I'm faster than them in a finish in a little group so nobody wants to cooperate," a frustrated Sagan told reporters after Wednesday's disappointment, which he has already experienced in one-day races this season.

His rivals 'sandbagged' him, he said, in the finale of Wednesday's 11th stage won by Frenchman Tony Gallopin.

Australian Michael Rogers and Pole Michal Kwiatkowski refused to take turns with Sagan as Gallopin attacked 2.5 kilometers from the line, knowing the Slovakian would beat them in the final sprint.

It was a similar story on Thursday when Norway's Alexander Kristoff claimed his maiden Tour de France victory, beating Sagan in a sprint on the 12th stage, a 185.5-km ride from Bourg en Bresse.

Katusha rider Kristoff timed his effort perfectly to win with a comfortable margin to leave Sagan still without a win.   Continued...

Cannondale team rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia cycles during the 161.5-km tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Mulhouse and La Planche Des Belles Filles July 14, 2014.                 REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen